I love it when I am looking at last year’s photos and come across images that remind me of my holidays and travels. It is hard to remember what the sun feels like, especially during the winter and in the UK where we have more grey skies than sun at this time of year. This photo was taken on a family holiday in Lyttos beach, Crete. It reminded me of why I love being by the beach, listening to the waves and enjoy the sun so much. Even during the autumn and winter months when the weather feels cold, if the sun is shining then I am smiling! Ok, ok so there are some other reasons why the sun gives me a big cheesy grin or that ‘healthy’ glow I live for every summer. Oh yes! There are some benefits between the relationship of sun exposure and your health. Here are four benefits of (moderate) sun exposure you should know about.
1. Enhances Mood
Regular sunlight exposure can increase your levels of serotonin in your body enhancing your mood, as well as help you to avoid common winter blues such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). An article by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), conducted a study on how to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. The researchers found a positive correlation between serotonin synthesis and exposure to bright light and an effective cure for non-seasonal depression. This suggests increased levels of serotonin can make you feel happier and more energetic.
2. Boosts Your Vitamin D Supply
Sun exposure can help boost your supply of vitamin D, which promotes bone growth and prevent illnesses such as inflammation and osteoporosis. We can also get our supply of vitamin D from foods such as oily fish (salmon and tuna), milk and eggs but most of us just don’t eat enough of these foods to get a sufficient supply of vitamin D. Try exercising outside or going for a short walk during your lunch break a few times a week to boost vitamin D levels.
3. Improves Sleep Quality
“What does the sun have to do with my sleep?” I hear you say. Now I love love my sleep and regular sunlight exposure can help our bodies to produce more levels of melatonin, a hormone that induces sleepiness by the pineal gland. So make sure you are getting enough sunlight so you can have a decent nights sleep.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
Skin exposure to UV rays release a compound, nitric oxide, which has been found to lower blood pressure. A study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology who compared two volunteer groups, suggests volunteers who sat under a UV ray lamp saw their blood pressure drop. This was compared to the group who sat under a lamp with UV rays blocked and saw no effect from the heat. These results were significant without changing vitamin D levels.
Remember to stay safe in the sun: Exposure to sunlight should be done moderately. Using prevention methods (such as sunscreen) should be used to protect your skin and avoid sunburn.